The use of chemicals in agriculture contaminates often our soil, water, air and food. They can be toxic to humans, birds, fish and beneficial insects. Thus, new solutions are needed to hinder further damage to the environment. The bioindustrial company, Bioomix, has developed a technology that can replace fungicides and antibiotics in agriculture, making plant production more sustainable.
We had a chat with the Cofounder and CEO, Morten Østergaard Andersen, to get to know more about the company.
What is the key driver for Bioomix?
Our vision is to reduce microbial resistance and pollution and to make food production more sustainable. We specifically focus on plant-fungal and bacterial diseases. By providing a solution targeting one of the grand problems in the agricultural sector, we could feed a growing population more sustainably on less land. Hopefully, we can help the agricultural sector by offering an effective alternative to agrochemicals that damage the environment and often lead to antimicrobial resistance burdening the healthcare sector.
What is the idea behind the company?
We are based on scientific research conducted at the Department of Green Technology at the University of Southern Denmark. Our idea is to provide new microbial solutions that can replace fungicides, synthetic fertilizers and antibiotics. The approach is based on a 3D printed discovery platform that uses natural selection and synthetic ecology to capture microbes with beneficial properties.
What are you focusing on in the Venture Lab program, and what would be the optimal outcome after 12 months?
We need to build up all the different business elements of the company. Our strength currently is the scientific data, but after being part of the Venture Lab program, we should be more certain about what markets to target, which investors to attract and how we translate great science into a good business.
It can be difficult for biotechnological solutions to compete with traditional chemical solutions. But recently, there have been some key changes in the regulatory landscape. How can you take advantage of that?
In many countries, they currently operate with two tracks in terms of regulatory approval. In the US, for example, the track for getting chemical pesticides approved is very long and expensive. In contrast, it is a much shorter and cheaper route to approval if you have a product for plant protection based on a microbial solution. This change in the regulatory landscape offers an attractive path for companies like ours.
Currently, vertical farming has become increasingly trendy. How can you tap into that trend?
Vertical farming is indeed exciting and a part of the solution for developing a more sustainable food production. Unfortunately, vertical farmers have huge challenges with microbial plant diseases because the plants are grown in very close and confined spaces allowing for plant diseases to spread easily. Currently, there are no good solutions to prevent this on the market. But our solution is actually spot-on since it both prevents the diseases from coming into the “system” in the first place and also protects the plants on a long-term basis. That is why vertical farming and indoor plant production are great business markets for Bioomix to target.
How do you differ from your competitors?
There is a wave of new innovative companies offering solutions that could gradually replace the use of pesticides. However, most of these exciting technologies seek to control animal pests like insects and nematodes using technologies like pheromones and RNA interference. We focus on microbial plant diseases and on replacing antibiotics and fungicides. There are also many smaller niches in the agricultural sector with an unmet need that we can target, including vertical farming. We aim to find exactly the right niches during the coming year and develop our products specifically for those. At this stage, we already have some bacterial strains that have proved efficient in hindering plant fungal and bacterial diseases.
What do you expect to learn in the Venture Lab program?
We expect to get valuable help and many business insights and become more certain about our value proposition. At the same time, we already feel that we can benefit from BII’s community and receive advice from other companies on a similar journey to ours.
Christian Brix Tillegreen, Senior Business Developer at BioInnovation Institute, says the following about Bioomix:
”Bioomix offers a solution that could be of great importance for securing a more sustainable food production in the future. Their biological solution based on brilliant science would, for example, fit into a market such as vertical farming that is expected to increase in the coming years.”